If this is not the end then woe to us the fallen,
for the only comforts remaining are the lies
from the low and the ferment from the front.
So here we remain, toe-to-toe/heart-to-heart,
with no plans to connive nor options to pursue,
left only our apathy and hand-wringing.
We would bear witness to these truths—we would—
if we had a breath left to draw on; we don’t.
But if the scales are shifting (and I am terrified they are)
it’s because of the innocents we’ve sacrificed.
Yes, you can weep, but try not to complain,
it’s nobler that way and besides, there’s nothing wrong
with a knife in the back, as long as it’s not your own.
This poem grew from the seed of a line that was cut early in the writing:
I’m not wrong, but I’ll not insist on the right—especially as I am.
It, in turn, was a paraphrase of a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche:
It is nobler to declare oneself wrong than to insist on being right—especially when one is right.
While to start with an idea from a famous philosopher can be inspirational, in the end I thought it better to write bad Etheridge than imitate good Nietzsche.
Thank you for reading Behind us only justice. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.
The photograph was taken in Washington, DC at the Lincoln Memorial. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.
Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.